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Are You Trying Too Hard, or Not Hard Enough?
By Caroline Cooper
Sunday, 20th April 2014
 

Last weekend we took a break to Istanbul and if you’ve ever been there you’ll know that like so many tourist areas you have to run the gauntlet to get through the mass of eager restaurateurs, carpet sellers and ceramics stallholders.
 
The trouble is they’re all just trying too hard to get our attention without even considering that we’re simply not interested.
 
And even if we were there’s no knowing what they supply will meet our needs. And so far there’s simply no relationship, no trust and no reason to choose them in preference to all the competition.
 
As it happened we weren’t in the least interested in looking at or buying carpets. However I do love ceramics and would have been tempted to look at some of the beautiful pieces on offer, but I was too scared of getting pressured …so I simply steered clear.
 
We were of course interested in eating! But rather than taking a gamble on our first night we asked our hotel for a recommendation. Interestingly when we approached the recommended restaurant it was the only one on that street where we didn’t get the sales spiel from the pavement.
 
4Hoteliers Image LibraryOn our second night we went to a restaurant in another part of the city which we would never have found had our hosts not been there before. It was tucked away in the most unlikely of buildings, on the top floor with fantastic views across the city, and food to match.
 
On our final night we took the easy option and returned to the restaurant we’d been to on our first evening. The food had been good, there was a great atmosphere and they’d looked after us well.
 
Let’s face, it it’s a similar story whenever we’re touting for new business. If we approach a prospective customer we’ve no way of knowing they have a need for what we sell right now, and even if they do they don’t know that what we have to offer is good match, there is no relationship, no trust and no particular reason to choose us in preference to any of our competitors.
 
Compare this with asking for additional business with our existing customers. They already know us, and we know that they’ve had a need for what we sell and may well have further needs in the future. They’ve already had experience of our product or service, and hopefully they like what we offer and if we’ve done a good job they’ll trust us too. Just like the two restaurants in Istanbul.
 
So how about devoting some of the energy we put into creating new business into fostering a longer term relationship with our existing (and past) customers? Keeping the relationship going, keeping contact, reminding them of what we have to offer and why they chose us in the first place, introducing them to what else we have available, asking them to share in our successes, taking every opportunity to stay on their radar so it’s us they think of first when they’re ready to buy again or asked for a recommendation.
 
It might take a bit of effort, but it certainly beats pouncing on every passer by just on the off chance!

Caroline Cooper is founder of Naturally Loyal who helps businesses to get more sales through their existing customers. Caroline specialises in working with hospitality, tourism and leisure businesses, helping them build loyalty through giving customers outstanding experiences and staying on their radar to trigger repeat business. She is author of the ‘Hotel Success Handbook’.

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